Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Orange Park High Students Suggest More Good News

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Orange Park High Students Suggest More Good News

Article excerpt

Byline: Mike Clark, Times-Union Reader Advocate

If a group of students from Orange Park High School were running the Times-Union, there would be a section of the newspaper devoted to good deeds. Every day.

This section would highlight volunteer opportunities. It would help connect people who need help with donors.

There would be profiles of people doing good deeds. Church groups and civic groups would have a place to announce their charitable campaigns. Business contributions would be highlighted.

Most of all, this section would feature young people doing positive things.

These ideas came from a brainstorming session I held with about 50 students -- freshmen and seniors -- in the English classes of teachers John Green and Monica Vickers.

The students have sent letters to newspapers in every state, challenging them to devote a daily section to positive news. I heard about their letters and visited them last week.

Green asks his Orange Park students to perform three good deeds as part of their course work. Students then give speeches and reports on their good works. But students and teachers came up with something even bigger. They decided to adopt a school that needed help. They chose West Jacksonville Elementary, which received an F grade from the state. Coincidentally, the Times-Union is a business partner of that school, and I serve on its School Advisory Council.

The students held a book drive and donated about 3,000 books to West Jacksonville, enough for about five books per student with some left over. However, news coverage of the students' book drive was minimal. A story was published on the back page of the Westside section, but nothing appeared in the Clay County Line section that they receive.

Last Friday, however, they made the newspaper's front page. Students donated 28 new bicycles with the help of their local Wal-Mart and Target stores. One student, Austin Matthews, raised $500 alone to help purchase the bikes. …

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